Tuesday, 28. August 2007
The 2007 Aurigid Meteor Shower

Will they come, or will they not? That is the question.
Sept. 1, 2007: The answers await.

September's shower, called the alpha Aurigids, has only been seen three times before, in 1935, 1986 and 1994. The reason for this elusiveness is the shower's unusual origin.

The shower probably won't return for at least 50 years, so it's a once in a lifetime event!

This very rare shower will occur again on 1 September 2007. A brief shower of tens of meteors will radiate from the constellation of Auriga, many as bright as the brighter stars in the sky. The Earth will be in the thick of it during the one hour centered on 04:33 a.m. PDT. The shower will be visible by the naked eye from locations in the western United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, from Mexico, and from the western provinces of Canada.

2007 Aurigids - The Aurigid Meteor Shower Observing Campaign
by The SETI Institute.
The shower is visible from only part of the world. What is the best location for viewing the 2007 Aurigid shower? Now, you can calculate the answer yourself there!

This is what an Aurigid might look like. Photo credit: Antonio Finazzi.

If you are lucky enough to catch a picture of an Aurigid meteor using your digital camera, you will be the very first to do so.
Get your cameras ready for two meteor showers by MSNBC.

If you spot one of those meteors, you may be only the fourth person alive who is known to have seen this meteor shower. In recent times, the shower was spotted in 1994 by two observers and in 1986 by one observer.

2000-Year-Old Meteors to Rain Down on August 31, 2007 by Space.com.

The Aurigids get their name from the constellation of Auriga, the Charioteer. The meteors appear to emanate from a spot in the sky near the bright yellowish star Capella in Auriga. The Aurigids, however, are rarely mentioned in most astronomy guidebooks because they are hardly worth mentioning in any given year.

Aurigid Meteor Shower Peaks September 1 by Space.com.

Elsewhere: Rare meteor shower to shed light on dangerous comets
by New Scientist Space.


Meteors from long-period comets are of special interest for two reasons:
#1 -- Long period comets almost always take us by surprise. They linger in the outer solar system, hiding in the dark for thousands or millions of years, until their slow orbits turn them sunward and--in they plunge!
#2 -- Meteors from long period comets may be very primitive. Consider the following: Most meteor showers (e.g., the Perseids and Leonids) are caused by short period comets, which pass through the inner solar system every few decades or, at most, centuries.
Long period comets, on the other hand, are rarely sun-blasted, and their surfaces may retain ancient substances formed by billions of years of cosmic ray exposure in the outer solar system.

Strange Lights: The 2007 Aurigid Meteor Shower by NASA.

See also: The 1 September 2007 Aurigid outburst from NASA Ames.

And: Aurigid Campaign by ESA.
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